No self-service at Oregon petrol stations

I would admit the headline is a little sensational but at the time of driving through Oregon I did think there was something odd about the Beaver state. In my many years of driving round Europe and now the USA I have found that all petrol stations have turned into self-service affairs. You get there, you you fill up your tank, you pay and then you drive off.

But in Oregon - oh nooooo. I even saw some other fellow Americans drivers puzzled by what they we and were not expected to do at the petrol stations. I definitely wasn’t the only one. As soon as I crossed the border from Washington going south and pulled-in the first filling station I got told off by some petrol station worker that I am not allowed to fill-up petrol myself.

By the time I pulled-in my second Oregon petrol station I have almost but forgot what I was told the first time - my mother will concur that I was not always known for doing as I was told. Anyway, I was told again that I was not allowed to fill-up my motorbike myself. My disobedience was encouraged by the fact there was nobody at hand at the station to actually do the filling-up for me so I just went ahead and did it.

What also amazed me was the reasoning for this and the reasons were not exactly consistent. The first petrol attendant-guy told me this was to stimulate employment which in my opinion is one of the most idiotic ways of going about this. Forcing petrol stations to employ people to do something that everywhere they can do themselves.

The second reason at the second gas station was even more crazy - that its all because health and bloody safety. Now the reason why this seems crazy to me and will probably to everyone reading this is what happens in an Oregon petrol station once you pull-up with your motorcycle: first you have to patiently wait for somebody to appear at your vehicle. This person than has to take your payment card and swipe it for you through the card reader at the pump. you then have to tell the attendant the security code which is the US is not the card’s PIN number but your ZIP - code. Then he or she lifts the filling nozzle and instead of starting to fill your precious bike with gasoline he/she hands it over to you! So if there ever was a ‘dangerous’ part of the whole filling-up process I think swiping your card in a card reader and pressing some buttons certainly wouldn’t be that and filling your tank definitely would be, wouldn’t you think? Oh no, they leave the use of combustible fluid to you - you know, because of health and safety.

By the time I came to my third and fourth Oregon petrol station I had more or less given up on being shocked by this bureau-stupidity and let them do their own thing. However I did refuse to pay gratuity. As far as I am concerned they can go to Salem (Oregon’s capital) and ask the governor for all I care.

One of the attendants even threatened that he and I could get a fine if we didn’t comply with this rule but I did not see one signs, not even one on any of the petrol stations I stopped in Oregon. I was also quite surprised that New Jersey has similar laws in place.

They lost me after slick surfaces and “Self-service dispensing at retail contributes to unemployment, particularly among young people;”.

The list of excuses why this has ended up and still remains a legislation is not short at all. The excuses are actually listed in the legislature text. I have sifted through it for your entertainment:

  • safety standards often are unenforceable at retail self-service stations in other states because cashiers are often unable to maintain a clear view of and give undivided attention to the dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids by customers. When I arrived at one of the Oregon stations I had to wait a while to get the attention of the attendant.

  • higher liability insurance rates as people can hurt themselves at these petrol stations: increased risk of crime and the increased risk of personal injury resulting from slipping on slick surfaces. Damn those those slick surfaces.

  • the dangers of crime and slick surfaces described before are enhanced because Oregon’s weather is uniquely adverse, causing wet pavement and reduced visibility Ohh fu** - now they are blaming the weather. Are they taking the piss?!

  • the law is here for senior citizins and the disabled In the rest of the world the senior citizens and disabled just have to remain without petrol then?

  • senior citizens and persons with disabilities must pay the higher costs of full service Oh really!? Never heard that happen but I think the US has to blame itself for all that gratuity-culture.

  • Self-service dispensing at retail in other states does not provide a sustained reduction in fuel prices charged to customers; So their reasoning is because self-service is not cheaper lets just ban it all-together.

  • prohibition of self-service petrol stations promotes public welfare by providing increased safety and convenience without causing economic harm to the public in general; Now they are just making shit up.

  • Self-service dispensing at retail contributes to unemployment, particularly among young people; Already covered it but I had to write it down again, just for laughs.

  • Small children left unattended when customers leave to make payment at retail self-service stations creates a dangerous situation And that is one of the reasons we have invented ‘Pay at pump’, not that Oregon lawmakers have noticed

Update in 2021

Apparnetly the self-service law was changed in 2018 and you are now allowed to fill up your vehicle by yourself. At least in most counties in Oregon